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Full text of "My Country And My People"

IIO         MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

enjoys slightly rebellious hair and bare feet goes to Taoism. It
has been pointed out that the Confucian outlook on life is
positive, while the Taoistic outlook is negative. Taoism is the
Great Negation, as Confucianism is the Great Affirmation.
Confucianism, through its doctrine of propriety and social
status, stands for human culture and restraint, while Taoism,
with its emphasis on going back to nature, disbelieves in human
restraint and culture.

Of the two cardinal Confucian virtues, benevolence and
righteousness, Laotse contemptuously said: "No character,
then benevolence; no benevolence, then righteousness."
Confucianism is essentially an urban philosophy, while Taoism
is essentially rural. A modern Confucianist would take city-
licensed pasteurized Grade A milk, while a Taoist would take
fresh milk from the milkman's pail in the country fashion. For
Laotse would have been sceptical of the city licence and
pasteurization and the so-called Grade A, which smells not of
the natural cream flavour, but of the city councillors* ledgers
and bankbooks. And who, after tasting the peasant's milk,
can doubt that Laotse was perhaps right? For while your
health officers can protect your milk from typhoid germs, they
cannot protect it from the rats of civilization.

There are other deficiencies in Confucianism also. It has
too much realism and too little room for fancy and imagination.
And the Chinese are childishly imaginative. Something of that
youthful wonder which we call magic and superstition remains
in the Chinese breast. Confucianism provides for the existence
of spirits, but takes care to keep them at a distance. It recog-
nizes the spirits of the mountains and the rivers, and even
symbolically those of human ancestors, but it has no heaven
and hell, no hierarchy of gods and no cosmogony, and its
rationalism shows little interest in magic and the pill of im-
mortality. Even the realistic Chinese, apart from their ration-
alistic scholars, always have a secret desire for immortality.
Confucianism has no fairies, while Taoism has. In short,
Taoism stands for the childish world of wonder and mystery
for which Confucianism fails to provide.

Taoism, therefore, accounts for a side of the Chinese charac-
ter which Confucianism cannot satisfy. There is a natural